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March 27, 2007
  • Verizonvsvonage It is one thing when someone like Jim Cramer jabs Vonage constantly for business reasons, that can actually be pretty humorous. What is not funny is the possibility of once again paying inflated prices to telephone companies due to Verizon’s attack on Vonage and subsequent winning of round one. Make no mistake, Vonage has had a key hand in changing 135 years of traditional ideas and usage patterns relating to what we call the telephone. These changes have had a dramatic impact on pricing and moving VoIP from techie to mainstream.

    What I do not understand is the relative apathy and lack of true outrage among consumers in general with regards to the Verizon ruling. Sites like TechDirt (for which I have previously disagreed) have covered it well and point to the ludicrous nature of granting a permanent injunction when Verizon seems to have no other interest than stopping innovation and keeping inflated prices. The judge states the following (as noted at TechDirt):

    Mar 27, 2007 at 08:47 AM in Companies, Legal, Patents, Take Notice
March 03, 2007
  • SnoopstickI previously posted about the dangers of thinking portable applications and difficult passwords provide security when on vacation or using a machine that you do not completely control/ trust. The SnoopStick provides a $60 example of why you should not access anything from an uncontrolled machine and not expect that your keystrokes, screens and network traffic is being recorded. This is just one of many items that can record everything you do for as little as free.

    Again, unless you are loading up your own operating system, using your own laptop, with a connection that is either encrypted or sufficiently secured, then you are not safe. All those portable applications and long passwords do is leave a longer string of information to record and pass on to the bad guys.

    Mar 3, 2007 at 09:54 PM in Security, Take Notice
December 15, 2006
  • Password strength is definitely important. Obviously, if you use a dictionary based password like MyPassword, you are not going to get much protection. However, more and more people are starting to use strong passwords and take other measures such as running applications from a thumb drive. All of these seem to provide people with a sense of protection and in many cases they do. But how many times have you seen people on vacation in Internet cafe's or business centers, typing away to friends at home, checking accounts and whatever else? I have seen this often and it is reasonable to expect that there are times when you have to (or just want to) check in. But who owns the computer? Can they be trusted? Can others who have access to the computer be trusted?

    Dec 15, 2006 at 02:44 PM in Security, Take Notice
December 06, 2005
  • Once again Bruce Schneier uncovers something I find quite disturbing. This reminds me of reading over non-disclosure, non-compete and or employment agreements. Why? Because when doing so, it seems more times than not (especially lately), there are items written in that are completely unbelievable and sometimes unenforceable. For example, one company actually had it written that no employee was allowed to purchase/ own stock in a competing company... Since the aforementioned company is in the software sector, as they defined it, no employee was allowed to own stock in Microsoft, Oracle or any other firm. Moreover, it was all at their discretion; they actually expected employees to ask for permission before making investments in companies, public or not, and could approve or decline at their discretion. Absurd? Yes.

    When asked about this clause, their answer was "Well, we do not enforce it or anything." Then why is it in the agreement? If you have no plans to enforce said item, then take it out. Long story longer, while it seems unlikely the FCC will be able to enforce the clauses outlined below, the trend towards inserting these items is disturbing because if there is an attempt to enforce them, their validity will need to be litigated. Litigation takes time, and if you get enough of these items stacked up, then that is more time and more money. This is not just governmental, it is also in the private sector.. Bottom line, pay attention and be careful to what you sign, but I digress.

    FBI to Approve All Software?

    Sounds implausible, I know. But how else do you explain this FCC ruling (from September -- I missed it until now):

    Dec 6, 2005 at 01:27 PM in Current Affairs, Legal, News, Take Notice
August 19, 2005
  • This article by Robert X. Cringely (of Triumph of the Nerds fame, and writings) has correctly brought to the forefront some issues surrounding the 2005 patent reform act. His great article, titled Patently Absurd, touches on some of the same concerns I have had about the reform act. I think it should even be more troubling when there are, essentially, secret hearings being held about a hugely important topic. Moreover, this bill has been repeatedly cited as the largest patent reform in over 30+ years; that means we not only need to pay attention, but have the bill progress above board. If what Cringely says is true (I have no reason to doubt the accuracy), Senator Hatch should be ashamed of himself.

    There are even more issues than Cringely cites, but this is a great start and I hope people pick up on the ramifications of this so-called "reform" act; it is another attempt to usurp the individual and small inventor for the sake of large business. I hope to post a series of articles about this topic in short order.

    Some good resources for reading up about the patent changes are:

    Aug 19, 2005 at 04:21 PM in Legal, Patents, Take Notice